Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs

We’re stepping a bit outside the Thanksgiving box today.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.

Because, although not a traditional holiday side dish, this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely worthy of a spot on your holiday table. It’s full of dried cranberries, whole grains, white beans and seasonal fresh herbs like fresh rosemary, sage and thyme and literally is a Thanksgiving explosion in your mouth. You’re going to get this one on the menu STAT.


I’ve been a big fan of grain salads for quite a while now, as evidenced by this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad, this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad and this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans. I love them because they are filled with a ton of healthy ingredients and filling to boot. The whole grains give them plenty of heft to make them completely suitable as an entire meal, although they are equally delicious (and the portions go a bit further) if you serve them as a side dish among all the other delicious things you typically serve up for a holiday meal.

I’m not joking when I say tell you this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs tastes like your entire Thanksgiving menu in a bowl. Sure, there’s no turkey in there (although you could easily add some and I wouldn’t be one bit upset about it) but just the cranberries and the fresh herbs alone are enough to mentally transport you to arguably the most well-known food holiday of the year. I love allll the fresh herbs, but there’s also just something about fresh sage in a recipe that really screams fall and all the deliciousness that comes with it.

A bowl of this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is filling enough to be a delicious vegan holiday meal.

As far as making the dish goes, it couldn’t be easier. Not only does it come together fairly quickly (the longest step will be cooking up the grains) but it can also be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature, which means it’s easy to fit into an already busy cooking and kitchen schedule once T-day rolls around.

For the whole grains, I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous because they were what we had on hand, but feel free to use other varieties such as quinoa, barley or even wild rice. I also added in some toasted pine nuts, and I highly recommend you do not skip this step, even if you want to sub in some other type of toasted nut for that little extra crunch. (Pecans? Almonds? So many possibilities.)

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is an easy, make-ahead side dish for the holidays.

I would also like to point out that said Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely vegan, which makes it a delicious, healthy, high-protein option for anyone in your group that may have certain dietary preferences. It’s a great way to serve them up some protein and filling flavor without having to bend over backwards making some sort of interesting Tofurkey creation.

Since I was developing recipes so far in advance this holiday season due to our little one’s arrival, I served this up as a side dish at my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration we held down here in Santa Barbara at the beginning of October. Let’s just say my sisters-in-law were already requesting I make it as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal when we go celebrate with them in a couple of weeks.  I hope you decide to add it to your menu as well!

Serve this vegan Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs as a hearty side dish or light, healthy meal during the holidays.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.
Print
Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This festive vegan side dish is full of filling whole grains, protein-rich white beans and pine nuts, and the freshest herbs of the season. 

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked grains of your choice (I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous)
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days before serving.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

At least I have one good reason to get up this morning!

A big bowl of in-season Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is the perfect summer meal or side dish!

And that’s to enjoy this uber-delicious Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts for lunch. After the morning I’m having, I’m going to need it!


Right at this moment I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office having just guzzled down a disgustingly sweet “Gluco-Crush” (no joke, that’s what it was called) for my gestational diabetes test. I now have a cloying after-taste in my mouth and all I can think about is all of the REAL food I’m going to eat after my hour-long wait for a blood test is done. Oh, the joys of pregnancy!

Speaking of, I know I’ve kept it mostly food here on the blog throughout my pregnancy so far, but do you have any interest in me doing some posts on my pregnancy? I always think I need to just jump in an do it but then I get worried that y’all will hate me if you’re not pregnant and I’m not posting delicious food recipes all the time. Thoughts? Requests? I’m all ears!

Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is the perfect light summer meal.

I’m definitely thinking I’ll start to do some food prep recipe posts in the next couple of months, as I’m starting to think about having our freezer stocked full of delicious things for when the baby comes so we don’t have to worry so much about cooking and just enjoy the time with our new little one. If you have anything in particular you’d like me to make, or any suggestions of stuff YOU’VE made that was a lifesaver, I’m all ears!

Okay, but back to this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts. I hope you all are as obsessed with fresh figs as I am, because you can bet I’ll be using them in as many recipes as possible if/when I can find them. I was able to find these ones at our Farmer’s Market (there were just TWO vendors selling them!) but our Trader Joe’s had them for a hot second a month or so ago and then when I went back they had disappeared already. I’m hoping we’re just at the start of the season and they’ll become more widely available in the next month or so, otherwise I totally missed the boat on all the fig recipes I want to make!

So, I found my fresh figs and I even bought two different varieties because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted, but feel free to use any variety you like. Aside from the figs, all of the ingredients for this salad are pretty darn #basic, and TBH I even hesitate for a hot second about posting the recipe because it so like “duh” easy. But I brought it over to a friend’s house for dinner and it received such rave reviews that I knew I just had to post it.

Serve this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts at your next get-together and it's sure to be a huge hit!

The only other ingredients you’ll need besides fresh figs are arugula, burrata, hazelnuts, olive oil and a nice, thick balsamic vinegar (I really like the Balsamic Glaze from Trader Joe’s.) Oh, and a pinch of salt and pepper! It’s amazing how often we forego seasoning our salads with good ol’ S&P here in the US, whereas in Europe it’s a regular thing. It makes such a huge difference!

The other great thing about this recipe is there is absolutely no cooking involved. Which means it’s perfect for summer! Well, I do recommend that you toast the hazelnuts (toasting nuts adds a great dimension of flavor to any recipe) but that takes literally 5-10 minutes on the stovetop and you’re done. Nuts are also something you can batch-toast in advance and just keep on the ready in your pantry for whenever the mood for that extra pop of flavor in a recipe strikes.

I tossed together the arugula, sliced fresh figs, toasted hazelnuts and salt and pepper with a light coating of olive oil, then drizzled on the balsamic glaze and plopped that creamy, cheesy goodness that is burrata right on top. I kept the burrata whole for transporting to my friend’s house, then cut into it and let it ooze all over the individual portions as I served. I also brought along extra olive oil and balsamic just in case people wanted some extra dressing.

This fresh fig salad features toasted hazelnuts and is topped with creamy, delicious burrata cheese. The perfect summer meal!

That’s it! Pretty easy, right? The fact that it’s no-cook and showcases some of the season’s best produce makes this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts a real winner in my book, especially for this time of year.

Grab the recipe below and remember to send me any pregnancy or meal prep post requests if you have them! Xo

A big bowl of in-season Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is the perfect summer meal or side dish!
Print
Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This summer-y salad features fresh figs, arugula and toasted hazelnuts, all topped with creamy burrata cheese and an easy olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Course: Main Course, Salad
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 7 ounces arugula
  • 14 ounces fresh figs, quartered (any variety)
  • 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (more or less depending on your personal taste)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Balsamic glaze
  • 8 ounces burrata
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, fresh figs, hazelnuts and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

  2. Drizzle on balsamic glaze and top with burrata. Cut into the burrata when you’re ready to serve!

Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts | CaliGirlCooking.com

Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto

The most refreshing salad EVER!

A big bowl of refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect summer salad!

Seriously, if you’re in need of some hydration in your life (and I know at least all us Californians do after this heat wave we’ve been having) then this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto is going to be your saving grace right now.


Let me tell you, we are soooo lucky that our landlord was kind enough to install A/C for us about a year ago because, judging by all my CA friends’ social media posts, every store that sells fans is completely sold out and people are sweltering in the near 100-degree heat. This does not sound like one ounce of fun to me (especially being pregnant,) so this is my open invitation to all of my overheating friends to come over and enjoy some Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto in our comfortably 75-degree little duplex!

But seriously, even if you’re not close enough to come over, you’ve GOT to get some of this salad in your life stat. Don’t get me wrong, I love a delicious classic caprese salad with that creamy mozzarella and alllll the fresh tomatoes and basil, but sometimes I just want to mix it up and swapping in the watermelon for the tomatoes is just the perfect little change (but not too much of a change) to really wow people the first time you serve it up.

A close-up shot of delicious Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect no-cook salad for summer!

And the prosciutto…Oh, the prosciutto! Okay, it’s no secret that I love the stuff, and it has that perfect saltiness (and extra protein) to really give this dish the ultimate flavor trifecta AND pass as a complete meal. I gave the prosciutto a quick spin in a saute pan to heat it up and therefore make it “pregnancy-safe,” but if you’re not expecting you can just throw it in as-is, straight from the package. Or, if you’re a vegetarian, simply omit the prosciutto and you’ll still be more than pleased with the taste. Pinky promise.

So how long will it be until you can get this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto whipped up and ready to serve on your kitchen table? Approximately 10 minutes. No joke. There’s no cooking involved, so the most time-consuming thing about this recipe might just be chopping up the watermelon into bite-size chunks.

A single serving of Watermelon Caprese Salad with Crispy Prosciutto from CaliGirlCooking.com.

And, if you haven’t refrigerated your uncut watermelon ahead of time, you may want to give the salad a little bit of time to chill out before serving. It’s totally worth it for how much more refreshing it will make it!

I don’t know about you, but all this talking about my new favorite “salad” is making me want to whip up another batch this weekend. We’re hanging out in town again, and planning on fully enjoying the summer weather with some beach time and maybe a barbecue or two.

What are your plans for the first “official” weekend of summer?!? Making some Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto, I hope?

A bowl of this refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto is the perfect light meal for summer!

A big bowl of refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect summer salad!
Print
Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This fun take on the classic caprese salad is full of refreshing watermelon and bites of salty prosciutto. The perfect dish for warm weather entertaining!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Snack
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 mini seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 12 ounces ciliegine (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 5 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Drizzle of balsamic glaze
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients except the balsamic glaze to a large bowl and toss to combine. 

  2. If watermelon was not pre-chilled before cutting, place salad in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 

  3. Before serving, drizzle on balsamic glaze and garnish with whole basil leaves, if desired.

Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto | CaliGirlCooking.com